November 30, 2018 Feature

CGL Coverage for Climate Change–Related Civil Litigation

By Seth D. Lamden

It is far too early to tell whether companies currently or formerly engaged in operations that emit greenhouse gases will face civil liability for climate change. Indeed, it is possible that no company will ever be held liable for climate change–related damages. However, although the number of potential defendants in climate change–related suits likely is less than the number of potential asbestos defendants, the number of potential plaintiffs in climate change lawsuits is limitless. And, as any toxic torts trial attorney knows, a single verdict in favor of a private citizen or municipality against a company for climate change–related damages could open the floodgates of follow-on litigation. In fact, any of the handful of currently pending private climate change lawsuits has the potential to be to climate change litigation what Borel v. Fibreboard Paper Products Corp. was to asbestos litigation.1

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